Visit Me at LibraryThing


June 2023

As the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire draws closer, there have been a slew of books published, recalling the horror of that day, honoring those who risked their lives to save others and reminding our country of the need for laws to protect workers from unscrupulous, selfish bosses.  While I am no fan of unions in their current state, every time I read one of these books, I am reminded of the reason we have unions, and of the good that they have accomplished for our country.

Political messages aside, this was a good book.  It traces the journey of Raisa, a young Jewish girl, who travels from her Polish hometown by herself to New York City, in search of her sister.  When Raisa arrives in New York, her sister is nowhere to be found.  So Raisa settles in to find a job and begin hunting the city for her sister.

Some other good books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are Lost by Jacqueline Davies; Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix; and Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch.

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

05th March 2010

I was at the library, juggling both of my kids, when I spotted this book.  Normally I don’t even bother looking for my own books when both kids are with me (most of my book browsing is done on-line these days.)  But the cover caught my eye, so I snatched it up as the 3 of us whirled by, and I’m so glad that I did.  The simple cover (hats and a scarf on a hook) and short, somewhat vague title — Lost–was the outer shell of an exciting book with a unique perspective on The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, an event about which I’ve read several books.

I’ve been trying to summarize the plot without giving anything away, and can’t.  So I’m not going to even try.  This is a fantastic book, hard to put down, and the suspense builds with each chapter.  Go read this book.

Haddix is a talented author, who has written many excellent books.  My favorite is her Cinderella tale, Just EllaUprising is also an excellent book.  Bella, Yetta and Jane become friends in spite of their differences.  Bella and Yetta are immigrants from different countries, working at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, and Jane is the daughter of a wealthy New York factory owner.  But when fire sweeps through the factory, the girls’ lives are changed forever.  It was hard for me to get into this book at first, not because of poor writing, but because of the dreadful lives that Bella and Yetta were living.  Their situation seemed so hopeless, I almost didn’t want to read on.  But I did, and I’m so glad I stuck with it.  In spite of the tragic fire, Uprising is a story of hope, forgiveness, perseverance and change.

Rose Nolan and her family immigrate to the United States in 1911. But before the family is allowed to leave Ellis Island, her father is sent back to Ireland with her sick brother. Rose, her mother and 2 younger sisters go to stay in New York with her uncle, but her mother soon tires of waiting for her father, and returns home. However, in spite of the difficulties, Rose and her sister Maureen are enamored with the new country and decide to stay and fend for themselves.

Rose soon finds work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. She makes friends, enjoys her work and the pay, and is content with her new life. But when a deadly fire rips through the factory, Rose is challenged more than she ever thought possible.

I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the dread that was hanging over me while I waited for the fire to happen. The book definitely portrays sympathy for worker’s unions. Given the conditions that Rose worked in, you can see why unions were so necessary. In spite of my disagreements with much of what unions do today, I do appreciate the contributions they have made to this country, and Auch does a good job of illustrating some of these in her book.